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  • Writer's pictureOctagon Careers

5 ways to create an amazing candidate experience

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

Recruiting new graduates is challenging. Hiring for junior positions requires a lot more effort than just simply waiting for fresh graduates to apply! Often coming with similar levels of experience, and little to differentiate on paper, being able to understand HOW they work and what SKILLS they have will provide a more accurate insight than a resume and a cover letter.

Taking a look at the big picture, together with global economic development and new trends like digitalization, the recruitment field is becoming more and more challenging. On one side, candidates are becoming more selective, and they are paying more attention to the overall candidate experience offered by employers. On the other side, companies search not only for candidates with good technical skills that would meet the most important tasks of a role, but also for profiles that match culture and would make a personal fit within the future team.

One Forbes article called How Hiring Is Changing To Put The Jobseeker First by Rebecca Skilbeck, comments that the strong competition for talents pushes companies to focus on creating better candidate experiences and building the recruitment process to meet the applicants’ expectations. When the competition for top graduate talent is so fierce, companies should ask themselves one question before embarking on a round of graduate recruitment:

What do candidates want their application experience to look like?

Having spent months facilitating focus groups, running presentations and workshops, and simply meeting with and talking to students, universities and companies, we know what makes an amazing application experience. Below, we share 5 of the most important aspects of the application experience when it comes to attracting students.

#1. Feedback

This is a very important part not only when it comes to feedback from candidates about the company and the recruitment process, but also from the recruiters back to candidates. Besides the fact that feedback will provide candidates with an opportunity to learn and improve for future applications and interviews, it will also provide the candidate with a justification, and can significantly improve employer brand perception by limiting negative feelings. In our conversations, meetings and focus groups, the theme of feedback came up time and again. Feedback can increase the chance that in the future an unsuccessful candidate will apply to the same company, limiting the likelihood of missing out on a great candidate based on one application alone.

#2. Transparency

When it comes to sourcing talent, there is clearly very heavy competition. This has certainly driven many companies to think more about the application process from the candidate’s perspective, and to foster a transparent environment. However, many candidates, especially when it comes to junior positions, still feel like there is a lack of transparency. This can include everything from the length of the process, a better understanding of timelines for each step, exact start dates, concrete responsibilities of the role and future progression. A higher degree of transparency during the overall application process will ensure candidates have increased trust and confidence towards the role, and the company.

#3. Assessed competencies

When it comes to competencies that employers are looking for when hiring, candidates often feel like there is a disparity between questions and tasks at the interview stage on the one hand, and the actual competencies required for the job and stated in the Job Description on the other. Through extensive tests, interviews and discussions, we know that applicants would love to receive clearer information when it comes to job requirements and competencies, and want to understand how the application process links to the role. Using job-preview-style assessments, measuring role-relevant competencies is a great way to achieve this!

#4. Cultural assessment

While technical skills and work experience are very important for the majority of the opening positions, cultural fit has gained a significant importance, especially when it comes to “competitive advantage” that employers have. On the market there are currently lots of strong cultural and personality assessments, and these can certainly help to ensure candidates would fit not only the role, but also the corporate culture. Interestingly, this works both ways. Candidates are also acutely aware that they want to work in an organization where they feel comfortable. Whether you use online or written cultural assessments as part of your application process, we also think it's worth it to meet with candidates face to face!

#5. Time frames

While this does fall into the ‘transparency’ section to a certain degree, turnaround time is very important in its own right. It can be split into two parts: feedback and final decision. We know that candidates can spend hours and hours perfecting a resume and cover letter. Often, they receive absolutely no feedback, positive or negative. We now live in a world in which technology and data can transform many processes, and can even predict events. Internal application processes can also be efficient, and the technology exists to provide candidates with details of when they will be contacted, when interviews will take place, and when final decisions will be made, with little additional effort on the part of the employer. Being able to provide this information changes the dynamic of the application process, improves brand perception, and streamlines the process internally and externally.

Many of the above stated concepts are being improved already by some companies in the market. Those are the employers who have already identified the power of strong brand perception, and how important is to have a qualitative candidate experience. However, when it comes to the junior and graduate job roles, many companies are still learning about the technological advancements that can alleviate negative issues with feedback, transparency, cultural assessment, and most importantly, assessment of role-relevant competencies.

We know that candidate experience is something that can be amazing, and that employers can benefit from a streamlined, accurate and effective application process. We know, because that’s what we do!
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